Furious Wasps boss singles out TMO over 'incident with Dan Biggar'
Wasps coach Lee Blackett criticised television match official Graham Hughes for not offering more help to inexperienced referee Adam Leal as his side slumped to their 12th defeat of the Premiership season.
But it may have been different had the officials reviewed a challenge by the home outside-half Dan Biggar on his opposite number Jacob Umaga as well as the build-up to the game’s decisive try, scored by Tom Wood.
Biggar, the Lions outside-half, left the field with a leg injury nine minutes from time, moments after he had entered a ruck and appeared to hit Umaga high with his forearm. Immediately after, Dave Ribbans knocked on before Wood picked up to put Northampton 10 points up.
“I thought the TMO chose when he wanted to come in and when he didn’t want to,” said Blackett.
“I think when you’ve got young officials out there on the field, you need experience. Graham Hughes has that, but I do not think he wanted to look at the incident with Dan Biggar.”
Two months ago, Hughes was the TMO at Newcastle when an incident involving the home wing Mateo Carreras on Josh Bassett was not acted on. Carreras was subsequently cited for making contact with his opponent’s eye and banned for nine weeks.
“Again, there was a young referee at Newcastle and he had Graham Hughes who had the experience,” said Blackett. “We all know what happened then.
“The refereeing decisions did not go our way today and we did not have the bounce of the ball – but we gave away three soft tries.”
Northampton need one victory from their final two matches to ensure they pip east midlands rivals Leicester for fifth place, but second-rower Ribbans said missing out on the play-offs made it a disappointing campaign.
“Not making the top four is unacceptable and we were knocked out of Europe early,” he said.
“We let ourselves down on too many occasions and made it hard for ourselves again against Wasps, but we got the result which was really important after defeats in the previous two rounds – and having fans back made a big difference.
“The victory was more important than the performance because of what it will do for morale.”
“I cannot get my head around Alex playing so many games for the club,” said Ribbans. “It is a huge achievement for a local lad who came through the academy.”
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